Sound — 8
This is textbook, emotionally bombastic screamo, but it's also heavier than anything the band has done in the past. There's lots of European-inspired, metallic riffing that's punctuated by the band's three-tiered vocal attack. There's a lot going on The Emptiness; it's a dense album, thanks to its layered sound and its complex lyrical concept. Alesana aren't much different than most bands of this ilk, but the North Carolina band is going to for broke by packing so much into the space of 11 songs. The album is an experience and while you can listen to each song by itself, it's meant to be listened to as a complete piece and it will bash you over the head with its ambitiousness and intensity; it doesn't go down like a glass of milk. But then again, there's nothing more cathartic and cleansing that music that can exhaust your body and brain. A Lunatic's Lament has an almost gothically romantic vibe, with its quieted opening; it's also the most commercially viable song on the record, as its peppered with less screaming and super ballistic riffs than, say, The Artist, which fires on all pistons, all the time. Quiet/loud dynamics are the hallmark of The Emptiness.
Lyrics — 7
Opening with spoken word passages, The Emptiness doesn't mask its intentions from the get-go. The entire album is based around a specific storyline, and it does feel more like a clever story than a high concept, about a character at the turn of the 20th century. The story is told through the band's androgynous, screamy, somewhat femme vocals and screamy, shrieky wailing. I'm not going to go too deep into the concept here; the album comes with a 13-page booklet for your to delve into yourself and decipher the meaning with your own brain! (I can't do everything for you!) It's nothing if not ambitious and creative and attention capturing, though! There's a lot of harmonizing between the high-pitched yelp and the screaming mimi style; there's also some guttural, almost death metal vocals on Curse of the Virgin Canvas. Alesana don't hold back when it comes to vocals, which truly define this album. There are more layers than an onion here, with an almost innumerable amount of pitches, keys and ranges dotting the sonic landscape.
Overall Impression — 7
The Emptiness pledges its allegiance to the screamo nation but Alesana definitely take a successful stab at the artier side of the genre. There's moments where the band reminds us of Thursday, but Alesana are a bit more polished and aggro. It's an acquired taste without being high brow, so if you like constant switches in vocals and androgyny mixed with monstrous moshability, then The Emptiness will earn a spot on your iPod's rotation.